A feature at Gamasutra examines one of the foundations of many MMORPGs — the idea that class roles within such a game fall into three basic categories: tank, healer, and damage dealer. The article evaluates the pros and cons of such an arrangement and takes a look at some alternatives. "Eliminating specialized roles means that we do away with boxing a class into a single role. Without Tanks, each class would have features that would help them participate in and survive many different encounters like heavy armor, strong avoidance, or some class or magical abilities that allow them to disengage from direct combat. Without specialized DPS, all classes should be able to do damage in order to defeat enemies. Some classes might specialize in damage type, like area of effect (AoE) damage; others might be able to exploit enemy weaknesses, and some might just be good at swinging a sharpened bit of metal in the right direction at a rapid rate. This design isn't just about having each class able to fill any trinity role. MMO combat would feel more dynamic in this system. Every player would have to react to combat events and defend against attacks."
An anonymous reader writes "Australia refused to give Rebellion's new Aliens Vs. Predator game a rating, effectively banning it in the country. Rebellion says it won't be submitting an edited version for another round of classifications, however. (As Valve did with Left 4 Dead 2.) They said, 'We will not be releasing a sanitized or cut down version for territories where adults are not considered by their governments to be able to make their own entertainment choices.'"
An anonymous reader writes 'Volcanic activity may split the African continent in two, creating a new ocean, say experts. This is due to a recent geological crack which has appeared in northeastern Ethiopia.'
krou writes "Caster Semenya won the 800m at the World Athletics Championship in blistering style, leaving her competitors in the dust, but she has been thrown into the midst of a scandal amidst claims that she's not really a woman. According to the many press reports, she's believed to shave, is flat chested, has a very masculine physique, previously preferred playing physical games with boys, and shunned traditional female activities and clothing. Questions about her gender have dogged her entire career. Previously, acceptance that she is a women relied on simple inspection of female genitals. But now the IAAF claim that they want to conduct further tests to see if 'she may have a rare medical condition that gives her an unfair advantage.' An IAAF spokesmen noted that 'The [testing] process was started after Semenya made her startling breakthroughs — a 25-second improvement at 1500m and eight seconds at 800m, just some weeks ago.' I'm curious what the Slashdot community thinks: what can be considered proof of someone being male or female? Is it simply a case of having the right genitals, or are there other criteria that should be used? Is the IAAF right in claiming that someone should be prevented from competing because they have a rare medical or genetic advantage?"
astroengine writes "Space Disco speaks with a Californian radio DJ about his role in raising, and paying, NASA's 30-year old littering fine levied by a Western Australian town. Skylab parts fell on Esperance in 1979, but the space agency's refusal to pay $400 has resulted in an entertaining annual grudge. Now the Barstow radio DJ is guest of honor at this weekend's 30th anniversary celebrations in Oz and the two small towns at opposite ends of the Pacific will be twinned... all because Skylab had a messy re-entry..."
Matt writes "The new crop of Cornell University ECE 5760 projects are now online. Some really cool projects, as well as the previous two years' worth of projects." Since it's mid-December, many other schools, too, have either just let out or are about to; can you point to any other online collections of cool technical projects?
Actually, in the solar system gaps between planets range from 1.4 to just under 2, if you count the failed planet where the asteroid belt is (probably got shredded by Jupiter's gravitational influence while it was trying to form). This tends to happen because 1.4 or so is roughly the region of stability for coplanar elliptical near-circular orbits; any closer and the third body perturbation significantly messes around with the orbit over a long time scale. Lunar systems of gas giants are also governed by orbital resonances and stability. Typically however for moons you get PERIOD resonances, where the periods of two orbits are nearly integer ratios of each other (ex: Ganymede, Europa, and Io are in a 1:2:4 resonance). Period scales with the 3/2 power of orbital radius, so you can pretty quickly calculate that while gas giant moons fall into the same rough regime (1.4-2x the distance of the closest neighbor), in practice you get moons even closer than you'll get planets because the 3rd body perturbations of the sun are even more apparent. Capsule description: Same overall mechanism governs spacing between planets and moons, but the 3rd-body influences are sufficiently different to affect the observed behavior.
Signing up for Slashdot and immediately getting into some arguments was so much fun. Whee!